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Articles: And another one bites the dust.
Posted by Meranda_Jade on Thursday, March 22, 2007 - 01:09 AM PST

Drama
I was getting ready to go to my daughter's middle school chorus concert when the phone rang.

"Dirk Davies is dead."
My mom's voice was filled with careful concern.

I couldn't speak for a second. "What?"

"What's more is, the obituary said that Clinton preceded him in death."

"WHAT???"

My mom continued speaking, telling me that my stepfather... the only father figure I ever had... had died at age 50... in Dayton fucking Ohio. The bastard was right here in my own hometown the whole fucking time.

I have no idea how to feel about this. I've said this many times since hearing this news. I have so many mixed memories... so many things in my life are based directly on the influence this man had on me for five years of my life.

When I was almost 10 years old, I had just escaped a psychotic Christian who had abused me deeply. My mother was living in a low-income ghetto in Utah... not the safest place for a little girl to grow up. I played with the illegal immigrant Mexicans, got one hell of an education.

This man showed up in my mother's life. He was good- looking, charming, and seemed friendly. He tried right away to get us to call him Daddy. I was the last holdout on that one. We lived in that apartment, and I was introduced to the biker party. See, Dirk was a tattoo artist, and would give hard-bitten bikers tattoos in our dining room. I would watch big, hairy men bleed and cry, while swallowing great quantities of whiskey. He built bookshelves for us out of cinder blocks and slabs of wood. He gave me a mix tape that had songs on it that are still my favorites.. "We are stardust...we are golden..." "I am an outlaw.. I was born an outlaw's son.." "The South's gonna do it again.." "Caballo Diablo.. half-horse, half-devil, they say..." (my favorite song, at 10 years old. Hey, it was about a horse. I loved it more that I loved Wildfire.) "Spent the last year, Rocky Mountain Way... couldn't get much higher..." It went on and on. The soundtrack of my life. Biker songs. They were played over and over again, as men bled in the other room, and I eventually claimed the worn tape cassette for my own. On my eleventh birthday, we drove out into the desert. I was riding in the back of a pickup truck, drinking out of a cheap gallon jug of white zinfandel. I got fucking wasted. No surprise, Dirk had taught me how to mix drinks and roll a nice, tight joint by then. He had also shown me my place. I was there to be a servant to any adult who was the boss of me.. and all of them were. I learned that I was for keeping the house clean, serving coffee and alcohol and keeping my mouth shut and doing what I was told. This was brought home to me from the first brutal beating I received. ANY infraction was immediately punished.. with a harsh glee that told me I had no hope in the world. It wasn't all bad. The cool thing I remember from this time was getting my fingernails tattooed. I would get elaborate designs that didn't hurt, and would grow out as the fingernail grew.

We soon moved out to the desert, where his parents had a struggling dirt farm. We were given a field of our very own, and a trailer to start. No electricity, no water. Electricity wires were strung within a day or two... it took us weeks to dig the trenches for the water lines. Yes, I said "us." I was given a shovel and told to dig a ditch across the place where the driveway was eventually going to be. Before we got water, we had to haul buckets of water to the trailer, where gas and electricity was already established. We would heat these buckets of water in a huge pressure cooker to boiling, then pour it into the bathtub, adding cold water until we could bathe in it. We all shared the same bathwater, taking turns. Once we got water, things got easier. Still, our washing machine was outside of the trailer, and we dried the clothes on a clothesline in the yard.

In spite of these obvious hardships, we children... me, Noelle (Half-sister from my mother) Clinton (stepbrother... psychotic, and the only sibling I really connected with. The boy was twisted, and violent, but he and I would play elaborate fantasy games of pretend with each other... I understood him and understood that he was on a path to destruction long before he reached the end of it.) and Tony, (The baby. He was such a sweet little boy, with cotton candy hair and a sweet temperament that made you just want to cry. In the beginning, before we had a phone, he would send us running across the field to his parents' house with messages that Tony had stamped with his little cowboy-boot heel. ) we managed to find a little play. Despite the fact that all of our toys were immediately put into a trunk in the garage that was off limits to children. We made do with things we found.... pretty rocks, screws, old bullet casings, became our toys and we would play pretend with these things representing animals or people.

We worked hard on that farm, pulling iron weed without gloves out of the cowfields... and weren't allowed lunch until a certain section of the field was cleared. To this day, I hate iron weeds... with their sticky burrs and thorny leaves. Lunch was a bowl of cheap macaroni and another bowl of home canned apricots. Sometimes, we got bread and butter. Real butter... That was one of the good things. We got real butter that we made ourselves... and real milk, so fresh it still mooed. Store milk doesn't compare... and I stopped drinking milk after leaving that farm. It just wasn't worth it anymore. We butchered our own meat... the first things said to me when we got to that farm were, "Don't name the cows and don't pet them. You'll eat them this fall."

Life was full of work, school, more work, punishment, and the occasional fun memory. Like the fact that Dirk was one talented man. He was an incredible artist. He not only did tattoos, but would take sections of logs and paint landscapes on them. I'm not sure if he sold them, but I think he did. One I remember clearly was of a canyon with a mountain lion at its edge. Another thing he did was an alphabet of anthropomorphic desert animals for a day care. They were really cool, and something I admired.

When he had been drinking a bit, Dirk would get out his old acoustic guitar and strum and sing odd country-western ballads. He would favor Bobby Bare and Charlie Daniels, and David Allen Coe. Those songs are forever burned into my memory.. songs like "The Winner" and "Tequila Sheila", "Long-haired country Boy", and Jim Stafford's "Wildwood Weed". I loved to sit at his feet and listen to him sing these songs.


It was after he'd had too many that he got mean. He would yell at my mother (Who was just as drunk as he was) and start fights with her. I would quietly gather everyone and herd them back to the bedrooms. I became the "little mother". I cooked the meals, cleaned the house, took care of the younger children, as well as the drunk and stoned adults. I would get into trouble and be beaten for random things, any excuse was used. I felt like Cinderella and dreamed of my Prince Charming. (I was 11-13. What do you expect? Of course I still believed in fairy tales and happily ever after.)

One day, I was being berated for bad grades. ( my grades were about a C average.) Everything was taken away.... rights, priveleges, favorite possessions, books, my flute... after books were mentioned, I couldn't hold back... I started screaming, fists clenched at my sides... "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU, HATE YOU HATE YOU!!!"

This was taboo. "Hate" was a word that was never allowed.

Dirk stood there, in shock. I had always taken punishment with silence and contrition. He shook his head and let me go. I was surprised that I'd gotten away with it. I was very good after that, trying to stay out of the way and not give anyone reason to be displeased with me. I figured my comeuppance would come soon.

I could go on, detailing every beating, every humiliation... but that would take hours. There's really too much. Too much happened, there was too much pain. Suffice to say that from the time I was 10 to the time I was 15, my life was dominated by this man who made me call him Daddy.

Then, after I had finished 8th grade, we moved back to Ohio.

We were at our first Thanksgiving dinner, in our own apartment, with all of my mother's family around... when Noelle said to Mike (A cousin), "I hate you." I had just gotten up to go into my room for something...

Dirk followed.

He slapped me hard across the face and said, "I never want to hear you say that word again."

It took me a moment to realize what had happened...

I went into the living room, and... in front of the entire family, said, " Go ahead and hit me again, it won't make me love you."

He raised his hand, looked me in the eyes... and shook his head. He lowered his hand and left the room. Later, he told Noelle that she owed me....that I'd taken a beating for her.

After that... he was nicer to me.

My fondest memory was when we went to the laundromat together... just him and me....and we went to the Esther Price ice cream shop and got ice cream, and went to the bowling alley across the street and bowled while waiting for our laundry to get finished. I felt... loved. Valued. I felt like my Daddy had pride in me.

He left us a few months after that.

We went through a miserable time, living in a trailer park, living with a junkie, mom going insane and us going to live with aforementioned Christian psycho.... and then, he divorced her while she was in a mental hospital.

I saw him one other time, briefly, when I was 16 and walking home from school. I let him give me a ride home, then made him stop a block away and drop me off because, "Mom wouldn't like seeing you."

I think he was sad about leaving. I'm not sure... but I think he missed me.

There is so much baggage. So much that he can never answer for. He hurt me. He hurt me physically and emotionally. He is part of the reason I distrust men. He is definitely a good bit of the reason why I think men will leave you the second you are happy with them.

I'm going to his funeral tomorrow. I'm going to see if I can lay this ghost from the past to rest.

I'm not sure how to feel about all of this.




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And another one bites the dust. | Login/Create an account | 4 Comments
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Re: And another one bites the dust.
by Meranda_Jade (Meranda@mymind.com)
on Mar 22, 2007 - 11:27 AM
(User info | Send a Message)
Update... after the funeral.


I arrived at the Hospice where the memorial service was held, full of apprehension. Would I be welcomed? Would people think that I didn't belong? What would his wife think to have his ex-stepdaughter arrive?

I was warmly welcomed by the chaplain, a sweet, roly-poly lady with kind eyes and a nice smile. She asked if we'd met before, and I said, "I doubt it. I'm his estranged ex-stepdaughter." She laughed and said, "Well, you're not strange anymore!" and led me over to where a bunch of pictures were on a posterboard. As soon as I saw the pictures, I started shaking and tears spilled down my face. I was unable to compose myself for a few minutes... unsure why I was mourning, and whether I was mourning for him or for me. The chaplain said, "We're glad you came." and hugged me until I stopped shaking and could breathe again. I asked who else was coming. She said, "H" is brother's here, with his wife." I looked up just in time to see Rick and Sherri at the entrance. I walked over to them and waved hello. They looked confused. I said, "You have no idea who I am, do you?" Rick shook his head. "No." "I'm Tracy."

He looked a little surprised, then Sherri started talking to me, telling me that I looked so grown-up... we chatted a bit about how life for each of us has been, about the past... we exchanged contact information, and I told her to give it to Tony and Jimmy. She also said she'd give me copies of pictures she has of me and my sister when we were little, as well as maps of the desert, so I could find a favorite camping spot someday. We went back inside as the service was about to begin.



I have never seen a funeral anything like this... and it didn't surprise me in the least that this was the way it was. Right away, we were told that Dirk had wanted a party, not a funeral. He had picked two songs to be played and wanted people to just hang around and eat food and have a good time. I smiled when I heard the first song... it was so right, and so in tune with his personality. It was "Prop me up beside the jukebox when I die." Several people got up to read eulogies... they talked about how Dirk had been an exceptional person... he worked with continuous care... that's where you take care of people who are dying and make them comfortable. They all said he had a special gift for it, and that everyone he worked with loved him, as well as the families of his patients, who he worked with as well. His sense of humour was mentioned, his irreverence, and unconventionality. He always dressed like a biker, black t-shirts, wild, long hair... and people warmed up to him after they got over the shock of his appearance. They said he always knew what to say and that he was a great teacher, in the lessons of life. The way they talked about him reminded me of all the things I loved and admired about him. It was easy to forget the pain and hurt, listening to how other people saw him, how they talked of his kindness and compassion. I'm guessing he made a lot of changes after he left us... and that my mom probably wasn't very good for someone like him.

He died of Scleroderma... Scleroderma causes a hardening and tightening of the skin and of the internal organs. Scleroderma causes severe contracture, particularly of the face and hands. He was basically mummified over a period of time. At least that's what they told me. He had a sense of humor even with this terrible disease. He made a lot of joking comments the whole time. One day, when the first breath of spring was in the air, he had his nurse take him outside. As he sat there in his wheelchair, with the wind blowing through his hair and the sunshine on his face, a man on a Harley rode by. He looked at his nurse and said, "I hate 'im."

What was most surprising was Carol, his wife. She was very warm and welcoming and told me that Dirk had talked a lot about

Read the rest of this comment...


Re: And another one bites the dust.
by Starlight on Mar 22, 2007 - 03:29 PM
(User info | Send a Message)
I understand how it feels when someone passes when there are still so many mixed feelings involved. My thoughts and heart are with you, MJ. *tight mental hugs*


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